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Council passes water rules

Some residents said more time was needed because the stricter regulations would be around longer than any drought.

May 20, 2009|By Christopher Cadelago

CITY HALL — The City Council on Tuesday voted 4 to 1 to approve six stages of mandatory water restrictions, despite repeated warnings from Councilman David Gordon that city officials had not adequately vetted the legal, environmental and safety implications.

Under the draft regulations approved Tuesday, property owners will be placed under a number of mandatory water-use restrictions meant to curb Burbank’s consumption as regional wholesale deliveries are cut in July.

The move came two weeks after Gordon spearheaded an effort to table the measure until the city attorney’s office could determine whether they comply with the California Environmental Quality Act.

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In bringing the ordinance back for review, city attorneys said the first tier of provisions were in compliance with state environmental laws.

The first stage bans watering between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. and prohibits outdoor irrigation during, and at least two days after rainy days. Hand watering is allowed in some cases, but hosing down driveways and patios are also banned. Hotels are to give customers the option of cutting back on towel and linen service, and eateries can serve water only upon request.

City officials said further legal vetting would be done before considering the more restrictive second stage.

Still, critics said the council was moving too quickly on a policy that would have a longer shelf life than any one drought.

“I believe we need more time — perhaps a month or more — to be able to answer a number of important questions before we establish an ordinance that could possibly create many problems,” resident Robert Phipps said. “We should think through and understand all the consequences of our decisions before we make them permanent. It’s not so easy to undo an ordinance once it’s passed.”

The six stages build on the original ordinance and are molded after guidelines from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Burbank residents have so far cut back by 6.3%, and reservoir levels across the state have improved, said Bill Mace, assistant general manager for water systems.

Still, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta continues to operate under stringent pumping restrictions stemming from federal environmental court decisions protecting native fish species. Those decisions have, in turn, cut into MWD’s water allotment from the State Water Project.

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